Mindfulness Meditation Skill #1 – Deep Breathing
In my effort to document the mindfulness meditation class I’m taking, I introduce skill #1, something easy: Deep breathing.
I know, you think you know how to breathe. In fact, my guess is you’re probably doing it right now (at least I hope you are). Nevertheless, many people don’t know how to deep breathe and this is a problem during mindfulness meditation. Many people, especially women, shallow breathe and this isn’t the best way to nourish your body. Some people even go so far as to occasionally hold their breath, especially when anxious.
Shallow Breathing vs. Deep Breathing
Shallow breathing comes from the chest while deep breathing comes from the belly. (I know all about this because I was a trained signer when I was younger and you have to deep breathe in order to project and hold notes properly.) Women, often, don’t like to deep breathe because they’re scared that breathing from their belly will make them look fat. (Really.)
How to Know if You Deep Breathe or Shallow Breathe
It’s actually really easy to tell. Place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Now, breathe deeply while watching your hands. If you shallow breathe, you’ll see the hand on your stomach not moving while the hand on your chest will be moving. If you’re deep breathing, you’ll see the hand on your stomach move first, and then the hand on your chest will move when you inhale. When you exhale, you’ll see your chest move first, and then your stomach, sort of in a wave.
If you find you’re shallow breathing, just focus on breathing into your belly and making the hand on your stomach move. It might take some practice if you’ve spent your whole life breathing in a different way, but at least during mindfulness meditation, you should focus on deep breathing. (Deep breathing can also help when you’re feeling anxious.)
Deep Breathing and Mindfulness Meditation
Deep breathing is important during mindfulness meditation as for much of it, you focus on the breath; that’s why it’s skill #1. Without deep breathing, I’m not sure you would have much of a mindfulness meditation practice.
Next up is Mindfulness Meditation Skill #2 – The Body Scan.